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Shawn Lukitsch, 36: Moped Mechanic at Shred Shed East.

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SCOTT ELMQUIST

"Before here I was in Denver for art school. I was working on getting a degree in videography, a bachelor's. And then, transportation wise, the city, they impounded my car. … I was kind of attached to it. But the city snagged it up from me. So it was just kind of like economic necessity really. I landed into mopeds and then met all the dudes in Black Black, which is my moped gang that I'm in now. I actually ended up dropping out of school and just becoming a full-time mechanic. Then when I was looking at moving back to the East Coast, I picked Richmond, came, and set up the shop.

"When I was deciding where to move it was a toss-up between Pittsburgh and here. … But there's just something about Richmond, dude, where people love having these things here, man. There's beautiful rides everywhere. You know, typically, too, the speed in the city is always like under 45, so you can get away with a stock bike pretty easy and still have fun. I mean, besides the roads being so terrible, Richmond is pretty cool for moped riding. People have a good time here when they come through for the rallies. And I think having VCU be such a pre-eminent part of the town here and the culture — people need cheap transportation.

"I think the appeal is probably just like, the cool factor. Some people, they don't want this really generic-looking, plastic blahdity-blah scooter that looks like every other one. These are easy to customize, too. I can weld frames, design color schemes, do custom stuff, top-tank mods. Add an extra tank, drop the bars, raise the bars, stretch the frame, this, that, the other. They look cool, they're neat, they're a throwback. And it's a unique culture, too.

"The bikes are barn finds or come from Craigslist. We call it city cat fishing. We just go and bottom feed all over the city. You have to habitually hit the flea markets and the junkyards and stay on Craigslist and search daily. You've got to have the app that's blowing you up constantly.

"I think there's always been and always will continue to be a demand solely because fuel is never going to get any cheaper. The idea is that they're selling all these brand-new scooters all over the place — and that's cool — but once your China scooter breaks down, nobody wants to work on them in town. You can't get parts. And if you find the wiring diagram, it's in Mandarin, so you can't even read it. So, the thing is, our mopeds are unique, they're vintage, they're stylistic. You're getting the aesthetic part of it too. Not everybody wants the plastic-toilet-bowl-looking thing that they just sit and like, buuzzzz, look like they're pooping themselves on it. They want something that's fun."

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